The mission of the Research and Instrument Analyst Branch (RIAB) is to assist Instrument Scientists and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) General Observers in the processing and analysis of scientific, calibration and engineering data. This work involves past and present Hubble instruments, development of the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) instruments, and optical/hardware testing in STScI's Labs. Our staff supports Hubble users by responding to Help Desk questions about instruments and analysis methods, and we interact with the entire astronomical community at major conferences that we routinely attend. Our staff also provides data processing and analysis for the scientific programs of STScI staff scientists, which could involve observing runs and analysis of data from other space-based or ground-based observatories, or their data archives.
Our branch is made up of Research and Instrument Analysts (RIA) and Scientists (RIS), which have Bachelors, Masters or Ph.D. degrees in Astronomy and related fields (see our staff gallery). Their duties are typically focused on manipulation and interpretation of data (i.e. images, spectra, detector data) using science software tools and languages (e.g. STSDAS/IRAF, IDL, python) within a Unix operating environment. Software coding may involve small scripts, or large data processing or analysis routines intended for wide use. For example, Hubble data analysis projects might include: cleaning up raw images into a finished product suitable for scientific or calibration studies; performing analyses of those images; interpreting results through comparison to predictions made by scientific models (and possibly creating those models); creating high-quality charts and images for reports and presentations; authoring reports and presenting results (i.e. posters or talks) at meetings and workshops.
STScI scientists interested in requesting support for their research projects can send e-mail to the RIAB Lead (Max Mutchler), with the following information:
- project lead, primary contact, local collaborators
- project title, and abstract or brief description
- program ID and/or grant number
- role of the analyst; experience and skills required
- fraction of analyst's time and duration of project, e.g. 50% for 6 months
- project start date